Expect More From Your Public Course Registrars.
ENROLLEE: Hello, I'm thinking about
REGISTRAR: And how will you be paying for that?
ENROLLEE: Uh, I suppose by purchase order, but first...
REGISTRAR: I'll need to know your course number and customer
ENROLLEE: Uh, I'm not exactly sure, but...
REGISTRAR: Are you a citizen of one of the following hostile
ENROLLEE: Oh, never mind. I'll try back some other time.
REGISTRAR: Thank you. Have a nice day.
Too many public course enrollees get
treated like an order to be processed rather than a customer
to be served. Why? Because the registrar who picks up their
call is part of a back office bureaucracy known as a "Call
Under a Call Center system, an enrollee
who needs counseling in selecting the right course -- or who
could be encouraged to enroll in a course string or certification
path -- or who has valuable information to share concerning
the overall training needs of their organization is dumped
off to some other part of the organization. "We'll have someone
call you back about that."
But, you know what? Nobody ever does
call back -- or when they do, they never connect. Because
the odds of actually getting anybody on the phone today are
less than 10%.
Call Center proponents claim their
system is efficient and smart -- by minimizing call duration
and improving call throughput. I say their system may be perfectly
swell in a situation where folks are calling in to question
a charge on a credit card bill. But it's a totally wrongheaded
way to treat a potential course enrollee. Here's why:
A. What good does it do to save 3
minutes on a call if another part of your organization has
to spend 15 minutes trying to reconnect? Why usher somebody
out of the store when they came in to buy something.
B. Training needs don't "keep." Every
day you delay taking an enrollment decreases by 10% the
probability that the individual will enroll at all. If you
want evidence for this, take a look at how many students
you are actually able to re-enroll when you find you must
reschedule a course.
C. Requiring high-priced salespeople
to call back individual enrollees is just not cost effective.
The ticket's too small, the timing's not right, and bigger
fish don't get fried. Meanwhile, all a registrar has to
do to scale up the sale is to go with the flow. After all,
the customer wouldn't be calling if they weren't interested
in buying. And it's only natural to counsel enrollees into
a curriculum or certification path once you've helped them
lock in on their immediate learning need. (Don't tell me
that registrars can't upsell. Give them the proper tools
and incentives and they can do a terrific job. We'll describe
how to make this happen in a future E-Visory.)
D. Don't assume that registrars can't
counsel enrollees into the right course because they're
not technical enough. Chances are the enrollee is technical
enough for both of them! Show your registrars how to use
Socratic questioning techniques to help enrollees place
themselves (we'll treat this in a future E-Visory as well).
If you routinely have to escalate to instructors to resolve
course placement issues, you're in trouble. You can't pick
up a phone when you're on platform!
Here are some typical dialogues we
get into when we propose that registrars play an expanded
"If we ask our registrars to do
any more, we'll just increase our customer hold time and
call abandon rate."
So, hire more registrars. You should
be able to reduce headcount in the areas that are picking
up the slack now -- or offset increased payroll with additional
revenue. Don't hang up on an enrollee until every opportunity
has been addressed.
"Our registrars are there to serve
enrollees. You can't serve and sell at the same time."
Who would you rather buy from;
somebody who was trying to be of service to you -- or
somebody who was trying to strong-arm you? Every top drawer
sales organization today is trying to distinguish itself
as a value added service provider. If there's a conflict
between serving customers and selling them, you're doing
"Our registrars will throw up
their hands and quit if we also task them with curriculum
consulting and selling responsibilities."
Actually, they'll thank you for
making their job less monotonous and more rewarding. You'll
be able to attract a higher caliber employee and retain
them longer. And, guess what, your better registrars are
already performing beyond their job description.
"A lot of our calls come from
purchasing and training administration people who don't
need any help and don't want to be sold to."
Fine, then just take the registration.
What's the big deal?
"Can't we just steer enrollees
who need more information or want to upgrade their order
to our Web site?"
Why transfer any customer once
you've established rapport. If the Web will help you make
your case, stay on the line while the enrollee logs on.
By the way, if you are also accepting registrations over
the Web, be sure your Web site is robust enough to do
the whole job, too.
"Why can't we just use clerical
types to take the basic registrations -- and transfer more
demanding or promising situations to more highly skilled
This is better than telling enrollees
someone will call them back -- but every time you transfer
a call you have to go through the information gathering
and rapport building process with the caller all over
again. Also, who's to say your designated expert will
be available when needed.
"What happens if a registrar can't
resolve everything with the enrollee during the initial
Then the registrar should call
the enrollee back, at an appointed time if possible. When
you're enrolling public course attendees, there are 1001
reasons why callbacks are needed. Perhaps a waitlisted
course has opened up. Or you've had to move a course from
your training center to a hotel. Or you need to reschedule
an offering. Or you've come up with additional information
to help the enrollee select the right course -- or help
them make a case to their boss for a course certification
"If we incent our registrars to
sell, isn't there a risk that they'll brush off enrollees
that don't have any upsell potential?"
Be sure your registrars are measured
and incented to do the entire job. Don't incent any one
responsibility at the expense of the others.
In conclusion, don't relegate your
public course registrars to being back office bureaucrats.
Empower them to meet every enrollee need and address every
opportunity associated with the enrollment process. Expect
more. You'll get it.
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